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Hot Docs 2018 Review: Playing Hard

Storytelling is in top form in Jean-Simon Chartier’s latest documentary offering, Playing Hard.

The doc revolves around the development of Ubisoft’s 2017 release For Honor, and the talented individuals who came together to make it happen. At the center of it is Jason VandenBerghe, the creative director of the game, but on this occasion he is also coming into the project with an idea he’s dreamt about all his life. As development takes place, the story begins to pull back and reveal what the creation of this game means for everyone involved, which is where Playing Hard really begins to shine.

While the film doesn’t tread new territory for docs, it skillfully uses storytelling to bring us into the fold. Chartier manages to bring the film past a barebones “behind the scenes” doc and presents something entirely human. Sequences are edited together with emotional punctuation, keeping you connected with the people we see on screen. Cinematic moments break us away from the story and connect us with the larger themes at play. It’s all quite engrossing, and Chartier never drops the ball as the emotion weight is carried out till the final moments of dialogue.

Creating something is an all encompassing process, and Playing Hard manages to weave a tale that truly paints a picture of how beautiful and  personal that journey can be.

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a Toronto based filmmaker and creative mad man. Legend has it that he spent most of his childhood locked away in a cell beta testing Netflix.